Dakota Skye Review

You know, it must be a nice to be a character in an independent film; even when you’re faced with major existential and relationship crises, they seem to be easily solved by trite monologues, acoustic guitar riffs, and staring off into the sunset for a long enough duration of time. It worked for Garden State, it worked for Juno, and by golly, it’s going to work for Dakota Skye. And by work, I mean annoy the living Hell out of me. Granted, Dakota Skye hasn’t become quite the thorn in my paw that the other mentioned films have been, but I suspect that’s due only to those films' complete omnipresence during the years of their release. In fact, I’m sure of it.

Dakota Skye (Eileen April Boylan) is a fairly typical teenage girl with a dumb name and an ambivalent attitude about what she wants to do with her life, which isn’t especially helped by her hordes of friends who are focused on little else but the SATs (so focused, in fact, that they sign Dakota up to take the tests without her knowledge; does that say something about how starved for conflict this story is?). She has a pretty typical meathead boyfriend, Kevin (J.B. Ghuman Jr.), who lacks insight into issues beyond his band and making out. Dakota also has what the film somewhat disingenuously calls a ‘superpower’, which is the ability to read the subtext into what people are actually saying when they lie. It’s basically that scene from Annie Hall in which the subconscious thoughts of Diane Keaton and Woody Allen are represented as text on screen played out in feature length form. But naturally, her world is turned upside down by the arrival of an unemployed actor (Ian Nelson) who never lies (well, no wonder he’s unemployed). The situation is also somewhat complicated by the fact that the new guy happens to be her boyfriend’s best friend (somewhat inexplicably, as the two have nearly nothing in common).

Dakota Skye’s story is pretty familiar (gee, I think she might stay with douchey jock character in the end), but it isn’t really helped by the fact that the story’s one innovation (her ‘power’) is never expanded upon or explored in any way. We’re never told how she got it, or even given a cool supervillain. The genre is not played with; the archetypes go untouched. Basically, the whole ‘super’ aspect of the thing exists as window dressing, which wouldn’t be quite so bothersome if the movie wouldn’t have been so greatly improved if they had done more with it.

As is, the movie doesn’t even fit together coherently. Why on earth are Dakota’s friends so insistent that they take the SATs with her? Why is our moody heroine going out with such a jock? Why isn’t this film about lying set in a location where you might be able to actually do something with it, like Wall Street or Hollywood? Probably because it’s some kind of law somewhere that indie movies have to have some major high school component to them and that people interact this way for the mere purpose of conflict, and that everything conclude with the exact sort of predictably that you’d get out of this week’s Hollywood romantic comedy. But since these movies don’t have the same kind of money behind them, they somehow get a free pass.

Dakota Skye doesn’t do anything that you haven’t seen in a movie a million times before, which might be more forgivable if the premise didn’t seem to promise otherwise.

DVD Bonus Features

In addition to the movie, the disc also features a trailer, several character teasers, a making of documentary, “Truth Behind The Lies” (which features the director, screenwriter, and much of the cast sitting in chairs, talking, juxtaposed with footage of the film), bloopers, short interviews, a photo gallery, and a pretty standard feature-length commentary by director John Humber and writer Chad Shonk.

"Dakota Skye" is on sale July 14, 2009 and is rated R. Indie. Directed by John Humber. Written by Chad J. Shonk. Starring Eileen April Boylan, Ian Nelson, JB Ghuman Jr.

Anders Nelson • Associate Editor


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